Exhibits

Current Exhibit

Please check back soon for updates on our autumn 2017 exhibit schedule. We are currently closed to the public due to damages sustained from Hurricane Harvey. Thank you for your patience.

Past Exhibits

Wandering Spirit: African Wax Prints

May 15, 2017 - August 16, 2017

This exhibit is a tribute to the century-old handmade wax print designs and patterns used on many African textiles. Originating in Indonesia, this method was copied and industrialized by Europeans and exported to Africa. The success of the wax prints is driven by many factors such as culture, taste, and desires of African consumers.

This exhibit is sponsored by ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the National Endowment of the Arts.

Black and White in Black and White: Images of Dignity, Hope, and Diversity in America

Saturday, December 10, 2016 to Saturday, March 25, 2017

African American photographer John Johnson powerfully captured the essence of the time period known as the “New Negro Movement.” From 1910 to 1925, Johnson primarily used his neighborhood in Lincoln, Nebraska as his canvas to craft powerful portraits of dignity and hope by capturing images of various racial groups together, revealing interaction that was rare at the time. This exhibit is curated by Douglas Keister, presented with support from California State University, Chico, and traveled by Exhibit Envoy.

Sunday Go To Meeting: African American Women & Church Hats in Houston

May 28, 2016 - October 28, 2016

In the early 20th century, Sunday church services provided African American women who worked as domestic servants or in other subservient roles the only real chance to break away from their drab, dreary workday uniforms. They favored bright colors and textured fabric, the bolder the better, and topped their outfits off with an adorned hat, or “crown”. Our new exhibition is a historical look at the origins of African American church hats and will include hats and stories by various women in Houston.

It Shall Be Done: Recent Acquisitions from the Gregory School Collection

November 14, 2015 - April 30, 2016

Archival collections provide important documentation for African American culture and history. Photographs, documents and artifacts can give form to history, bridging past and present with explorations of emotions and experience. This exhibition brings together a selection of works from the collection that have rarely been shown. Represented will be important documents including a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. funeral program, documentation for the inception of Houston College for Negroes (now Texas Southern University), rare artwork by John Biggers and Elizabeth Catlett, and oral histories from notable African Americans in Houston.

Independence Heights: A Window to the Past

April 14, 2015 - October 17, 2015

In 1908, black families began to move into an area northeast of Houston known as Independence Heights. By 1915, it contained over 600 people and its residents voted to become an incorporated city in Texas. In fact, the new City of Independence Heights was the first African American city in the state of Texas, according to accounts in the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post. The exhibition, Independence Heights: A Window to the Past, celebrates the city’s centennial.

It's A Black Thing: Collecting African American Memorabilia

September 14, 2013- March 1, 2014

The exhibit highlights Houston collectors who understand the significance of amassing this part of American History. These objects have meaning. Whether positive or negative, it has a cultural and/or historical context and symbolizes something about the African American experience in the United States.

Negro Spirituals: Triple Middle Passage

January 19th - August 10th, 2013

Known for his narrative paintings and outstanding draftsmanship, poet Harvey Johnson has dedicated his work to the depiction of the human condition. The exhibition Negro Spirituals: Triple Middle Passage will highlight Johnson’s work that spans over five decades.

The Tuskegee Airmen: The Segregated Skies of World War II

September 15, 2012 - January 5, 2013

This exhibit depicts the history and heroism of the airmen who began training in a segregated program at Tuskegee Army Air Field in 1941. A traveling exhibition from Kennesaw State University, the exhibit features ten panels with historic images from the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the Tuskegee University Archives.

The Color of Life: Works by Leon and Molly Bee Collins

June 16, 2012 - September 1, 2012

This father and daughter pair are creating original art that grows straight out of the rich soil of the Brazos river. The painting of cotton fields, family and southern culture are portrayed with joy and empathy. It’s clear these stories on canvas are shared by artists who know and love their roots. True folklorists, Leon and Molly Bee are preserving the rich history of the area by talking with people about their lives, their past and experiences and bringing those stories to life through their art.

A Walk in Their Shoes: One Thousand Eight Hundred Miles - Noah Rattler’s Journey

March 24, 2012 - July 14, 2012

While volunteering at a homeless service that works to engage, stabilize, educate, employ and house individuals and families, Houstonian Noah Rattler gained a perspective that would change his life. In 2007, in an effort to convey the complexity and diversity of homelessness he had seen, Rattler walked from Houston, Texas to Santa Monica, California. Every step of his four month journey was documented through film, photography, and social media that gives an account of the places and people he met along the way.

Photography Exhibition: Down In Houston - Documenting a Blues Community

January 28, 2012 – March 10, 2012

In the clubs, ballrooms, and barbecue joints of neighborhoods such as Third Ward, Frenchtown, Sunnyside, and Double Bayou, Houston's African American community birthed a vibrant and unique slice of the blues. Ranging from the down-home sounds of Lightnin' Hopkins to the more refined orchestrations of the Duke-Peacock recording empire and beyond, Houston blues was and is the voice of a working-class community, an ongoing conversation about good times and hard times, smokin' Saturday nights and Blue Mondays.

Since 1995, Roger Wood and James Fraher have been gathering the story of the blues in Houston. In their book Down in Houston: Bayou City Blues, they draw on dozens of interviews with blues musicians, club owners, audience members, and music producers, as well as dramatic black-and-white photographs of performers and venues, to present a detailed portrait of the Houston blues scene, past and present.

Every Day Use: The Origins of African American Quilt-Making

Sept. 10, 2011 - Jan. 14, 2012

Quilts and quilt making have a rich and long history among African American women. Quilts were constructed from everyday materials, such as scraps, discarded clothing, and feed sacks. Many of the materials were sewn into intricate patterns. The exhibit examined the traditional practices of quilt making.

The Whole World Was Watching: Civil Rights-Era Photographs from Adelaide de Menil and Edmund Carpenter

March 5, 2011 - August 20, 2011

This exhibition presented a selection of work from an extraordinary gift to the Menil Collection by Adelaide de Menil and Edmund Carpenter: 230 civil rights-era photographs. The work, by Dan Budnik, Danny Lyon, Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, Bob Adelman, and Elliott Erwitt, captured the profound changes taking place in the United States beginning in the 1960s.

It includes a wide variety of striking images that deal with race and politics: marchers on the road from Selma to Montgomery, Dr. Martin Luther King in protest, cotton workers in the Mississippi Delta, prison labor camps in Texas, and the Ku Klux Klan.

Shall We Gather

September 18, 2010 - January 22, 2011

One hundred and forty years later, the Gregory School was reopened and converted into a special collections library, (part of the Houston Public Library System) that stands as a monument to all Houstonians.

The exhibit “Shall We Gather: The Gregory School Celebrates 140 Years” examines the unique history of the Gregory School while interacting with works from the African American Library at the Gregory School’s archival collection. This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Houston Public Library.

When the Spirit Moves: African American Dance in History and Art

April 24, 2010 - August 21, 2010

As African American dance continues to shape mainstream American dance, this exhibition, When the Spirit Moves: African American Dance in History and Art, was organized to illustrate and chronicle this story from beginning to end and everything in between.

Moments, Memories, and Voices: Let Us Remember

November 14, 2009 - April 11, 2010

Offering an intimate view and perspective of the beauty and pride of everyday Americans, this exhibition provides insight into those physical and cultural connections which residents establish within their neighborhoods.

Communities such as Fourth Ward create a space for all Houston residents to look at themselves, listen to voices of the past and present, and engage one another in reflecting on a shared future.